Here comes the Amazon Fire Phone, as the vendor begins to move away from its long running Kindle brand name, and it looks a whole lot like a 2014 iPhone that’s only capable of Android functionality from 2011. While the Fire Phone offers nothing new, it still manages to deliver a pair of surprises. The first is that, while various Android phones have borrowed various hardware designs and stylings from Apple over the years, the Fire Phone is as close as any vendor has ever come to straight-up running the iPhone through a Xerox machine. Add a round home button to the bottom front of the new Amazon phone, and from more than a foot away you’d swear it was an all-black iPhone 5S. But perhaps even more surprising is just how little the Fire Phone does to compete with its fellow Android phones.
Even as Apple’s attorneys fire up their indictments to begin the long, painful process of getting the Fire Phone removed from the market on patent and trade dress grounds, a battle Apple will win with one hundred percent certainty but not for at least another year, the existing Android phone vendors must be breathing a sigh of relief. The technical specs of the Fire Phone are nothing special, in fact nothing impressive; the Galaxy S5 and even last year’s Galaxy S4 are more desirable pieces of hardware. And that’s before getting to the fact that the Fire Phone is, not surprisingly, just as forked as the Kindle Fire tablets. That means it’ll have a hard time running some third party Android apps and an even harder time accepting Android system software and security updates, at a time when other Android vendors like Samsung and HTC have finally begun cleaning up their act in this area.
So just who’s going to be willing to buy Amazon’s Fire Phone, now that it’s clear the device is little more than a phone with 2014 iPhone looks and 2011 Android power? Those who like the idea of getting an inexpensive smartphone that looks just like an iPhone, and don’t know enough or care enough to realize that it doesn’t offer anything close to that of an iPhone (or even that of a circa-2014 Android phone) experience, along with those who are such cheapskates that they don’t care about the quality or utility of what they end up with. In other words, the Fire Phone should sell to the same crowd who have been buying the Kindle Fire.